Category Archives: Seder Recipes

Shabbat Salam: A Ramadan Favorite That’s Perfect for Shabbat

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Hanan is the creator of “Healing Table” where she prepares Middle Eastern themed pop-up dinners in order to bring individuals from all faiths and backgrounds together. A big part of what motivates her to organize these dinners is conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, through their shared history of food and culture.

On Friday, May 3, 2019, Hanan came to my Upper West Side apartment to teach me a few of her favorite Ramadan recipes while growing up in the West Bank village of Dibwan, and to show me how to prepare Qataiyif (see recipe in this blog), as well as the following chicken and rice dish. Once finished you will see why this delicious meal would work for any special occasion, whether it be for Ramadan or Shabbat!

Hanan Rasheed’s Dejaj ma’eh Batata
(Roasted Chicken with Garlic, Allspice, Cumin and Potatoes)
Yield: Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS:
For Marinating the Chicken:

5 ½ to 6 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (mix of legs, breasts, and thighs)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground curry
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

For Frying the Potatoes:
1½ to 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, dried, and cut into 2-inch wedges
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup sunflower, vegetable or canola oil

For Assembling and Baking the Chicken:
1 large onion, peeled, cut in quarters, and thinly sliced
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups cold water
Fried potatoes (prepared in Step #3)
1 tablespoon sumac

DIRECTIONS:
Prepare the Chicken:

1. Rinse chicken pieces with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
Place the pieces into a large Ziploc bag.

2.  Add the remaining marinade ingredients to the bag, seal shut, and massage the spices into the chicken by squeezing the bag. Place bag in the refrigerator to marinate a minimum of 10 hours or overnight.

Prepare the Potatoes:

3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan for 2 minutes over high heat. Test to see if the oil is hot enough to fry by dropping a small piece of bread or potato into the oil. If it immediately fries, it is ready. If not, continue to heat another 30 seconds until ready. So as not to splatter yourself with the hot oil, gently place the potato pieces into the pan and mix with a large metal spoon to spread them out. Fry until golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

4. Spoon the fried potato pieces into a bowl or strainer lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil and set aside.

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Assemble and Bake the Chicken:

5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

6. Scatter the onion slices along the bottom of a large baking pan.

7. Arrange the marinated chicken pieces skin-side up on top of the bed of onions.

8. Combine the chicken broth and water in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and pour evenly over the tops of the chicken pieces.

9. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place on the bottom rack of the oven to bake for 1½ hours.

10. Scatter the fried potato pieces on top of the chicken then sprinkle the whole pan with the sumac. Recover pan and continue to bake for 20 more minutes.

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11. Uncover the pan and move it to the top rack. Broil on “Hi” for 2 minutes or until chicken is a bit more browned, then remove from the oven. Serve hot on a serving platter or plate with rice on the side.

 

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Hanan Rasheed’s Riz ma’eh Sha’eriya
(Long Grain Rice with Fried Vermicelli and Pine Nuts)
Yield: Serves 6 to 8 / Makes about 8 Cups Rice

INGREDIENTS:
For Rice:

¼ cup vegetable or canola oil (for frying) plus 1 tablespoon (for final step of steaming)
1 cup vermicelli noodles
2 cups basmati rice
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
5 cups boiling hot water

For Serving:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
½ cup pine nuts

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pour oil into a large, heavy bottomed pot and warm over high heat for 1 minute.

2. Crumble the vermicelli noodles over the pot into the hot oil and spread out gently with a large metal or wooden spoon. Mixing constantly, fry the noodles until golden in color but not browned.

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3. Pour the rice into the the pot with the noodles and mix gently to coat with the oil.

4. Add the salt and boiling water and mix well. Bring to boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover pot, reduce heat to the lowest setting, and steam for about 30 minutes until soft.

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5. Remove lid off of rice and pour lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over the rice and fluff up with a fork. Cook an additional minute then turn off heat, cover, and let rice sit for 10 minutes.

6. Pour the pine nuts into a small skillet and toast over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes until browned but not burned. Remove from heat.

7. Spoon rice into a large serving bowl or shaped into a mound or pyramid in a large serving platter and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately.

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Sahten!

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Sweet and Spicy Ethiopian Style Haroset

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I was surprised to learn from many Jews who had grown up in Ethiopia, that haroset simply had never been a part of their Seder meal. But for those few who did have it, the addition of fresh ginger was essential to creating a paste that was both sweet and spicy. Because the Ethiopian diet traditionally has very little in the way of sweets, the haroset also became the dessert, spread over matzah either at the end of the Passover meal or during the long holiday week.

Recipe from “Too Good To Passover,” Section 1: Africa, Chapter 3: Ethiopia

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ETHIOPIAN STYLE HAROSET
(Date and Fig Spread with Fresh Ginger)

Yield: Serves 8 to 10 / Makes 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients:
1/2 pound Medjool dates (about 8 large), cut in half, pits discarded
1 pound dried Black Mission figs, quartered, stems discarded
1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger root
1/2 to 3/4 cup cold water

Steps:
1.
If your figs are dry and hard, place them in a small bowl filled with enough cold water to cover. Let the figs soak long enough to soften slightly, 1 to 2 hours. Drain well. (Figs should be soft enough to squeeze between your fingers.)

2. Place dates, figs, ginger root, and 1/2 cup water in a food processor and pulse until a smooth and thick paste (if you need to add more water, do it one tablespoon at a time so that it doesn’t become too watery).

3. Place in a small, decorative bowl and serve at room temperature with matzah.

 

Moroccan Date-Raisin Haroset “Truffles”

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Moroccan Style Haroset
(Cinnamon Dusted Date-Raisin “Truffles” with Walnuts, Rolled in Cinnamon)
Yield: Serves 12 / Makes approximately 3 cups or 4 dozen 1-inch balls

A recipe from my cookbook Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe, Section 1: Africa, Chapter 5.

This Moroccan haroset is shaped into a small ball, then rolled in ground cinnamon to resemble an elegant truffle. For the most impressive way to serve visually, stack balls on top of one another into a pyramid shape on an elegant platter alongside any other more classic haroset spread in a bowl. When it comes time to eat, guests may help themselves to a single truffle and eat it straight, or pressed down between two small pieces of matzah as a sandwich.

For Haroset:
1 cup walnuts

½ cup slivered almonds
12 large Medjool dates or 20 regular-size dates, pitted and cut into large pieces
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dark raisins
3 to 4 tablespoons sweet Passover wine, such as Manischewitz

For Serving:
1 box of matzah/matzo squares or mini matzah crackers

Cinnamon (for rolling and dusting the outside)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place the walnuts and almonds in the food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, but not into a meal-like consistency (about 30 seconds).

2. Add the dates and raisins and combine in the food processor for about 30 seconds.

3. Add the wine and pulse until the mixture becomes a soft paste.

4. Taking one level tablespoon (or mini melon ball scoop) at a time, roll the thick paste into 1-inch balls* (if the paste is sticking too much to your hands, try dipping your hands in cold water and then rolling them).

5. When all of the balls have been rolled, pour a couple of tablespoons of ground
cinnamon onto a small plate and gently roll each ball in the cinnamon to lightly coat the outside. (You can also dust your hands with cinnamon and then roll each ball again
between your palms to lightly coat, whichever way is easier.)

6. Serve haroset balls at room temperature stacked in a small decorative bowl or on a small platter alongside tea matzahs. Store balls in a tightly covered plastic container between layers of parchment or wax paper in the refrigerator for up to three days, or the freezer for up to one month.

*Note: If you wish to serve the mixture in the more common way of a paste in a bowl, then add a little more wine or warm water to make a bit smoother and softer for spreading.

Nargesi: A pie in love with itself.

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The name Nargesi comes from the Farsi word (Narges) for the Narcissus plant or daffodil, a sunny springtime flower (with either bright yellow petals and a deep orange center, or bright white petals with a deep yellow center) that has come to symbolize rebirth and renewal. This river bank flower is named after the Greek God Narcissus known for his extraordinary beauty, who subsequently drowned while admiring his reflection in a pool of water. Over time the term “narcissist” has come to define someone consumed with his or her own physical appearance or ego.

In my research on this dish I came across photos where instead of the eggs being scrambled with greens and herbs (as done in this recipe), the eggs were cracked open and poached directly on top of a bed of sauteed greens and onions, which visually resembles the Narges flower over leaves. I learned this unusual recipe from my friend Simona Shokrian, whose family would serve this for Passover. The resulting dish is more like a hearty frittata, mixed with herbs, spinach, and tiny meatballs, that you cut into wedges like a pie. Naima Abrishami suggests to sprinkle with lemou Omani (crushed Persian dried limes) to add a slight tangy flavor before serving.

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Nargesi (Persian Egg “Pie” with Leeks, Spinach, Turmeric, and Tiny Meatballs)

YIELD: SERVES 6 TO 8

INGREDIENTS

For Meatballs:
1 large (1/2 pound) white onion, pureed in food processor (should have about 1 cup)
1 pound ground turkey (dark meat better since it has some fat) or beef

For Nargesi:
2 tablespoons grape seed, safflower, or vegetable oil
1½ cups coarsely chopped yellow or white onions (about 1 large)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white or freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin (optional)
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
1 cup finely chopped coriander leaves or 1/3 cup tarragon leaves
½ cup finely chopped dill leaves
4 ounces coarsely baby spinach leaves (about 7 loose cups)
2 cups coarsely chopped leeks (use dark green and white parts only) rinsed in cold water and drained, or 1 cup coarsely chopped chives
¾ cup hot water
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

For Serving (optional):
2 tablespoons ground or crushed lemou Omani (dried Persian limes)
or 1 to 2 whole lemou Omani, ground in food processor

STEPS:
1. Drain the excess liquid from the puréed onions and mix with the ground meat in a medium bowl.

2. Heat a large 5- or 6- quart pot with oil over high heat for 1 minute. (Note: Your pot should be about 9 or 10 inches wide, but no more or the final pie will be too thin!) Add the chopped onions and cook until soft and transparent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the salt, pepper, turmeric, and cumin (if desired) and mix well. Cook 1 minute.

4. Reduce to a medium-low heat. Wet your hands lightly with cold water (to prevent sticking) and taking only 11/2 teaspoons of the meat mixture, form it into a small, smooth meatball the size of a large cherry. (Meat will be very soft and wet, so be gentle.) Drop the meatball into the pot and continue until all of the meat mixture has been used up. Cover pot and steam until solid and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

5. Drop in the parsley, coriander (or tarragon), dill, spinach, and leeks (or chives) and cover.
Steam until the herbs and spinach have wilted and softened, 10 minutes.

6. Pour the hot water over the top and mix gently so as not to break meatballs. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce to a medium heat, and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. (Eggs will cook too quickly if added to mixture when very hot.)

7. Once nargasi has cooled, re-warm over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually pour in the beaten eggs while gently mixing with a spoon to distribute evenly. Partially cover and steam over lowest setting until eggs have solidified but are still soft and slightly wet in the center, 35 to 40 minutes.

8. Score and scoop out large pieces of the nargasi and arrange in layers onto a serving platter or plate. Serve warm with lemou Omani on the side for individuals to sprinkle on top of each serving, as desired.

Charazoti: Georgian Flavors Come Through in their Charoset.

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version of this charoset was described to me by Irina Kazhiloti. The walnuts, which are commonly found in Georgian cooking, are added in a larger quantity than the rest of the nuts, while the addition of pears and peeled chestnuts give it a thick texture similar to a pâté. Try serving this with one or two other charosets at your Seder table this year!

Charazoti 
(Georgian Style Pear and Wine-Soaked Raisin Spread
with Walnuts, Hazelnuts, and Chestnuts)

Yield: Serves 8 to 10 / Makes About 2 1/2 Cups

For Charazoti:
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/3 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup peeled and cooked chestnuts (fresh or packaged)
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
Pinch of salt
2 ounces ripe pear, cut into cubes (about 1/2 cup)
4 ounces Red Delicious apple, cut into cubes (about 3/4 cup)
2/3 cup black raisins soaked in 2/3 cup sweet kosher for Passover red wine for 1 to 2 hours
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

For Serving:
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds (or mixture of all three)

STEPS:
1. Pulse walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chestnuts, sugar (if desired) and salt
in a food processor for about 30 seconds or just until coarsely ground and crumbly
(do not over grind).

2. Add the pieces of pear, apple, raisins (and the wine it was soaked in),
and orange juice and pulse until mixture becomes smooth and thick, almost like a pâté.

3. Place into an air-tight container and chill for 2 hours. Serve in one or two small decorative bowls garnished with chopped nuts. Charazoti may be store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Revisiting the Egyptian Sofrito: Test 3 is the charm.

had neither tasted nor even heard of a sofrito until one year while visiting family in France, my husband and I were invited to the home of Dinah Franco — a Sephardic Jew of Egyptian descent. Sofreír in Spanish means to sauté or “lightly fry,” and in Spanish, Portuguese, Caribbean and Latin American countries, a sofrito is a type of sauce made by cooking a lot of garlic, onions, and spices with various vegetables for a long period of time over low heat, so that it can be used as a base for cooking meat, other vegetables, beans or rice dishes.

The following recipe is one that I recreated after having tasted Dinah’s, which combines nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and turmeric, with a lot of garlic and onions. When I was first developing this dish I focused on getting the right balance of seasonings and ingredients down on paper, and when I later tested my recipe I found that the result was more like a soup than a stew. In this most recent third attempt I used a lot less liquid to braise the meat and cooked it over a lower heat for a longer period of time. The overall result was a thick, rich sauce that took on the flavor of the meat, and more of what a true sofrito should be.

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STEP 1: Gather and prep your ingredients (3 pounds beef stew pieces, 4 cups onions, parsley, 1 to 2 cups coriander leaves and/or parsley leaves, 4 to 5 tablespoons garlic, spices, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, black pepper).

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THE SPICES: 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon ginger, 2 teaspoons turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

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STEP 2: Brown the meat in a large heavy-bottomed pot with a little oil over high heat, then pour into a separate bowl along with all of its liquid.

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STEP 3: Add a few tablespoons of oil to the same pot (no need to wash) and cook onions over medium-high heat until soft and transparent, but not browned. Add the garlic and while stirring, cook for 30 seconds.

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STEP 4: Add the spices, salt, and pepper, mix, and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute.

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STEP 5: Return browned meat and all of its liquid plus about 1 cup cold water to the pot. Add the chopped herbs and mix well. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a medium-low heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook an additional 1/2 hour until sauce has reduced and meat is so soft it can be easily cut with a spoon. (Note: If you like, you can scatter a few cups of potato pieces over the top and cook it with the meat for the last 1/2 hour as well.)

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STEP 6: Dinner is served.

 

 

 

 

 

Four Generations Come Together for Algerian Boulettes with Green Peas

David Rak's grandmother Ginette (seated left), clockwise: David' mom X, David's Dad X, David's wife Jennifer, David (center), and his youngest daughter Léa

David Rak’s grandmother Ginette (seated left), David’s parents Nicole and Robert Rak (standing in back),                 David and Jennifer Rak (center and right), and their youngest daughter Léa (on David’s lap 🙂 )

Each spring, Ginette Cohen would pack her suitcase with quatre épices and a box of Spigol spice packets, and fly from France to New York City to visit her grandson David Rak for his birthday. In his tiny Harlem kitchen, she would prepare the dish that he most longed for: Les Boulettes, and a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to catch her on a visit and learn her secrets. Ginette explained to me that for other occasions, these meat patties would be coated in semolina and served over couscous, but during Passover they were instead dusted with matzah meal and served over steamed crushed matzah. Proudly served on all occasions, Boulettes gives delicious new meaning to Algerian-Jewish comfort food.

The following is a visual recipe for Boulettes:

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Step 1: Combine ground lamb and beef, eggs, broken up matzah, almond flour, onions, garlic salt, pepper, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, saffron, mint, coriander, and parsley in a large bowl.

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Step 2: Roll meat into large balls and roll lightly in the semolina or matzah meal.

Step 3: Place all coated meatballs onto a cutting board or tray and flatten slightly into patties.

Step 3: Place all coated meatballs onto a cutting board or tray and flatten slightly into patties.

Step 4: Dip patties into beaten eggs.

Step 4: Coat patties into beaten eggs.

Step 5: Gently place patties into a pan with very hot oil to fry until dark golden-brown on both sides.

Step 5: Gently place into a pan with very hot oil and fry until dark golden-brown on both sides.

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Step 6: Simmer boulettes with peas in a broth made of water, onions, salt, turmeric, and saffron for 1 hour.

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Step 7: Serve!

 

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